Orange and Ginger Cake with Candied Walnuts

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I have a soft spot for citrus desserts, and this cake is no exception. What I love about this cake, besides its buttery crumb, are the bitter-sweet undertones of ginger and walnut. This cake is the epitome of warmth, with vibrant orange zest, spicy fresh ginger and bitter candied walnuts.

*makes one 2-layered 8-inch cake, serves 8-10

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  1. 267 g flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 175 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  6. 250 g granulated sugar
  7. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 223 ml greek yogurt
  10. 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  11. 2 tablespoons orange zest

For the frosting:

  1. 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 200 g powdered sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon orange zest
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 tablespoon milk

For the candied walnuts:

  1. 50 g walnuts
  2. 20 g granulated sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  4. 1/4 tsp sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar, ginger, orange zest and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and greek yogurt to the butter mixture and fold until combined.
  5. Divide and pour the batter into the prepared baking pans and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, to prepare the frosting, add the butter to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes). Add in the powdered sugar in 2-3 batches and mix on medium-high speed until frosting is very creamy and light. Add in the vanilla and orange zest and mix to combine. Add milk (if needed) to adjust the consistency. Frost between and top top of the cakes.
  7. To make the candied walnuts, add the sugar to a saucepan over low heat and cook until sugar has almost melted. Add in the maple syrup and salt and whisk to combine.
  8. Finally, add in the walnuts, making sure to coat all of them in the sugar. Cook until they look crispy and smell toasty. Spoon walnuts onto a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool completely before placing on top of the cake.

Orange and Chocolate Crème Caramel

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Chocolate and orange are both excellent flavour power-houses on their own and even better when put together. This crème caramel  has the richness of chocolate and the freshness from seasonal winter oranges to make a delightful treat. A dark just-set custard, fragranced with soft undertones of cardamom and cinnamon, served in a pool of bitter caramel. 

 

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the caramel:

  1. 65 g sugar
  2. 1 tablespoon cold water
  3. ⅔ tablespoon hot water

For the chocolate custard:

  1. 1½ cups whole milk
  2. 1½ tablespoons sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean, split
  4. 3 cardamom pods, crushed
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  6. 1 teaspoon orange extract
  7. 1 teaspoon orange zest
  8. 1 cinnamon stick
  9. 60 g dark chocolate
  10. 2 egg yolks

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Coat the insides of 4 ramekins with cooking oil.
  2. To make the caramel, in a small saucepan, heat the sugar and cold water over low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, swirl the pan occasionally until the caramel has reached a dark golden colour.
  3. Remove from heat and add in the cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Pour the caramel equally into the 4 ramekins. Do this quickly as the caramel will start to set. In case the caramel has hardened, heat it again for a few seconds until it reaches a pouring consistency. Set the ramekins aside.
  5. In a larger saucepan, add the milk, vanilla bean + seeds, cardamom pods, and the cinnamon stick. Let the milk come to a light boil and remove from the heat.
  6. Add in the chopped chocolate and orange extract and whisk together.
  7. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop. Once cool, add in the ginger and orange zest and leave for another 15 minutes.
  8. Once cool, sieve the mixture.
  9. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Pour in the chocolate milk and mix until combined. If there is any foam on top, use a spoon to skim it.
  10. In a deep baking tray, place the ramekins and then pour in the chocolate mixture into the ramekins. Pour boiling water into the baking tray. Cooking these in a bath ensures even cooking.
  11. Bake for 50 minutes. A good way of testing if they are done is to giggle the ramekins. The centre should be almost set, not fully.
  12. Let the ramekins cool completely and then set in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  13. To un-mould, dip the ramekins in hot water for a few seconds. Then run a knife along the edge of the custard and flip onto a plate.

 

Orange and Lavender Upside Down Cake

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This is my favourite kind of cake. The simple, sticky and jammy kind, with caramelised golden oranges. As the oranges bake in a bitter pool of caramel, they produce the best toffee-like edges. The cake itself has the dreamiest texture, and is more than just a canvas for the caramelised oranges, as the beautiful scent of lavender wafts into the air as you cut into it.

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Ingredients:

  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons dried lavender
  4. 100 g olive oil
  5. 50 g Greek yogurt
  6. 2 oranges
  7. zest of 1 orange
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 140 g sugar
  10. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 120 g flour
  12. 1 tsp baking powder
  13. ¼ teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Generously grease  a sheet cake pan with butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
  3. Thinly slice the oranges, remove any seeds, and place them in a single layer at the bottom of the cake pan. You can remove the pith, if you don’t like the bitter taste. Set  the pan aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and Greek yogurt.
  5. Add the dried lavender to the sugar and rub together with your hands until the sugar smells of lavender.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, lavender sugar and vanilla extract and orange zest until the mixture is light and almost double in volume.
  7. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently fold in the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add the oil and yogurt to the batter and stir until smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Cool the cake for 5 minutes before inverting it onto a plate to cool completely.